The state’s unemployment rate dropped in December, the third straight month the rate has declined.

Iowa Workforce Development says the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6 percent in December from 3.8 percent in November. A report from Workforce Development says Iowa’s economy has grown at a slower rate than in the past — but growth in construction, finance and healthcare offset losses in other areas.

The report says the number of unemployed Iowans dropped by nearly 4,000 from November to December. Workforce Development reports the professional and business services sector added the most jobs in December, up 1,300 and was fueled by hiring in professional, scientific, and technical services. In total, 2,500 jobs have been added over the past two months for this sector. Manufacturing added 900 jobs following losses in the prior two months.

Job losses in December were heaviest in leisure and hospitality, dropping 1,600 due to larger-than-expected seasonal declines in accommodations and food services. The report says the retail trade reflected another sluggish month of holiday sales and fueled a loss of 1,100 jobs in trade and transportation. It says the weak retail hiring may be a symptom of consumers bypassing brick-and-mortal retail establishments in favor of online retailers. The only other decline this month occurred in information services drop 300 jobs.

The total number of working Iowans decreased to 1,650,800 in December. This figure was 4,000 lower than November and 4,800 higher than one year ago.

The U.S. unemployment rate increased to 4.7 percent in December.